Thursday, February 7, 2013

Start with Draft 0, not Draft 1

In our last post, we referred you to the blog of Erik Bergman, who stated a crucial truth in an eloquent way:

Most early drafts are a writer’s half-blind exploration of what he or she wants to say but hasn’t yet hit upon.

In contrast, many writers believe that a first draft can and should be perfect. As a result, they frighten themselves and they procrastinate. When the deadline is terrifyingly near, they dash off an inadequate first draft. They lose twice: they suffer mental agony and they deliver a poor product.

If this sounds like you, don’t be embarrassed. We’ve all done it.

A quick and easy way out

Cheer up. Here’s what to do.

In your word processor, set up a standard document. Format it your favorite way, as to font, spacing, margins, header, footer, and so on. (If you already have such a document, make a copy of it.)

Name this document “Draft 0.” Then open it and type this (or your own version) at the head of the first page:

This is Draft 0. It’s only a half-blind exploration of what I want to say. It won’t be difficult; nobody’s going to see it but me. I’ll just get my thoughts down, rough and ready. Then I’ll start on Draft 1.

I’ve been starting with a Draft 0 for more than 25 years. Many professional writers use this technique. It works. I don’t know who first thought of it, but I salute him.

The Takeaway: Be kind to yourself. Call your first draft “Draft 0.” Figuratively close your eyes and blast through it. Then start on Draft 1.

See disclaimer.

No comments:

Post a Comment